|Publication number||US7183504 B2|
|Application number||US 10/466,820|
|Publication date||Feb 27, 2007|
|Filing date||Feb 6, 2002|
|Priority date||Feb 6, 2001|
|Also published as||CA2437683A1, CA2437683C, US20040080903, WO2002063740A2, WO2002063740A3, WO2002063740A9|
|Publication number||10466820, 466820, PCT/2002/3424, PCT/US/2/003424, PCT/US/2/03424, PCT/US/2002/003424, PCT/US/2002/03424, PCT/US2/003424, PCT/US2/03424, PCT/US2002/003424, PCT/US2002/03424, PCT/US2002003424, PCT/US200203424, PCT/US2003424, PCT/US203424, US 7183504 B2, US 7183504B2, US-B2-7183504, US7183504 B2, US7183504B2|
|Inventors||Norman R. Byrne|
|Original Assignee||Byrne Norman R|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (32), Referenced by (25), Classifications (15), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is based upon and claims priority of International Patent Application No. PCT/US02/03424 filed Feb. 6, 2002, which is based upon and correspondingly claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/266,769 filed Feb. 6, 2001.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to electrical power systems, and more particularly, to power systems having modules positioned beneath access flooring structures and the like.
2. Description of Related Art
The use of computers, sophisticated telecommunications equipment and other electronic devices is continuing to rapidly increase in commercial, industrial and other office environments. As a result, the importance of efficiently supplying power throughout these environments is also increasing. In particular, the use of modular office systems, with movable workstations and interior walls, has led to electrical systems far different and more sophisticated than the conventional designs comprising single or double unit electrical receptacles mounted in stationary walls, with the receptacles energized from incoming power supplies with cables extending through wall interiors. Such conventional single or double unit receptacles, particularly when used with modular office systems, were often located a substantial distance from electrical devices to be energized and would cause unsightly and sometimes dangerous arrays and result in entanglements of the electrical cords connected to the devices. Thereafter, pluggable units having a number of receptacles and a common power source cord to be plugged into the conventional utility outlet started to be used. Again, however, such units result in unsightly and entangled arrays of electrical device cords.
With the growth of the use of electrical power and modular office systems, it became known to employ removable wall panels or the like (which defined the workstation areas), with the panels or other structures having a raceway area for accommodating electrical wiring and electrical junction blocks near the floor or otherwise near the locations to be energized. Typically, junction blocks were mounted within the raceway areas by attaching them with various types of structural arrangements. During the past two decades, a substantial number of issued patents have been directed to concepts associated with these raceways and means for mounting electrical receptacles within the raceways.
Although the concept of employing raceways and electrical receptacles within modular wall panels and the like presented a substantial advance in electrical power supply design, this type of design does not provide a complete solution for all office system arrangements. For example, such panels can be relatively expensive and require a substantial number of different types of electrical components. Further, the particular electrical components to be employed can be dependent on the specific office system design. For example, many of these electrical system arrangements require different components dependent upon whether outlets are to be used on one side of a removable panel or the other side. Still further, many of these systems include relatively complex and expensive components to interconnect electrical power among various wall panels.
In addition to the foregoing problems, these electrified panels do not provide a complete solution to efficiency and aesthetics of power supply design when a more conventional office system design employs stationary walls with more permanent and fully enclosed offices. On the other extreme, in completely open office or “bullpen” design arrangements, no walls, removable or otherwise, are employed and the electrical system designer is again left with significant design problems.
In view of all of the foregoing, electrical system designers are again considering the use of electrical receptacles and similar electrical devices beneath access flooring. Such flooring arrangements allow power and signal cables to be placed beneath the floor in positions which do not interfere with the placement of walls or furniture. Further, such arrangements do not require any walls whatsoever, as required with raceways and receptacles mounted within removable walls. With the use of access flooring, the power and signal cables, along with other appropriate electrical devices, can be moved as the modular offices or other office design arrangements are modified.
Floor mounted devices for providing electrical service have been known for several decades. Early devices typically employed power supply cables extending underneath permanent flooring and interconnected to junction boxes or the like. Electrical receptacles would be mounted by some means within the junction boxes and electrically connected to the receptacle outlets.
For example, Stas, U.S. Pat. No. 2,996,566 discloses a floor-type outlet box for use within concrete flooring. The outlet box includes a duplex receptacle positioned so that the receptacle outlets extend vertically upward slightly beneath the floor level. A cover plate is hingedly mounted to the box and capable of being sealed to provide a water-tight housing flush with the concrete floor. Another, still earlier, disclosure of a junction box having electrical outlets for use in concrete floors is set forth in Buchanan, U.S. Pat. No. 1,928,198. The Buchanan patent is primarily directed to an arrangement for adjusting the position of the outlet box after the concrete floor is poured so as to compensate for any undesired displacement.
Several of the known arrangements for providing electrical receptacles in floors include arrangements for selectively positioning the receptacles between exposed and concealed positions. For example, Press, U.S. Pat. No. 3,622,684 discloses a floor receptacle mounting unit having electrical receptacles which can be rotated to a position in which the receptacles are exposed above the level of the floor or, alternatively, rotated to positions in which the receptacles are concealed below the floor level. Myers, U.S. Pat. No. 3,433,886 discloses an electrical junction box to be mounted flush with a floor. The junction box adjustably mounts an electrical service or receptacle box which is recessable below the floor surface through the use of adjusting machine screws. Other floor mounted electrical junction boxes and receptacles are shown in the following references: Kelly, U.S. Pat. No. 3,395,243; Wiesmann, U.S. Pat. No. 2,738,892; Fuller, U.S. Pat. No. 3,975,074; Guerrero, U.S. Pat. No. 2,811,574; MacLeod, Jr., U.S. Pat. No. 3,131,512; and Dubreulio, U.S. Pat. No. 3,794,956.
With respect to the previously cited references, most of these references are directed to floor mounted electrical receptacles and junction boxes to be mounted in permanent flooring. However, with the increase in use of modular offices, and for various other design and structural reasons, the use of access flooring is becoming more widespread. Such access flooring also allows the positioning of junction boxes and incoming power and signal cables to be placed beneath the floor after or during the design of the office systems (modular or otherwise) to be employed within the commercial or industrial environment. Such access flooring also allows for power and signal cables to be placed beneath the floor in a position which will not necessarily interfere with the placement of walls or, for that matter, furniture placement following complete office design. In addition, the use of such access flooring allows for junction boxes, electrical outlet boxes, power and signal cables to be selectively moved as the office systems are rearranged.
In known systems for utilizing electrical power with access flooring, power and signal cables are interconnected between incoming power supplies and junction or electrical receptacle boxes referred to herein as access floor modules. Appropriate office equipment is directly connected to receptacle outlets within the access modules which are designed specifically for receiving the receptacle outlets.
An example of a known access floor module is disclosed in Brownlie et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,122,069. With reference to the drawings and the numerals disclosed in the Brownlie et al. patent,
Although the prior art shows a number of designs for floor-mounted boxes capable of mounting electrical receptacles, an important aspect of floor-mounted arrangements is the overall “system.” The overall system includes all of the junction boxes, electrical receptacle boxes and outlets, and the requisite cabling, including the means for interconnection of cabling. For example, if the system requires cables of different types with respect to lengths, connectors, and other structural considerations, the system designer's job is more complex, since the designer must essentially have a final system design before ordering the requisite cabling. Although an inventory of various cables may be ordered and stored, such an inventory may be expensive, take up valuable storage space and involve components which are never used. Still further, if a voluminous inventory is not desired, the designer must have exact details as to positioning of electrical outlets, system dimensions and other layout information before undertaking the process of ordering the cabling.
Other design and assembly issues for these types of electrical systems relate to system components other than cabling. For example, such systems may utilize one type of component for a junction box, and another type of component for mounting electrical receptacles. Again, such a structure suffers from the same problems previously described with respect to requiring various types of cables for the overall system.
In addition to issues associated with cabling, junction boxes and receptacle mounting structures, the means for interconnecting system components is also important. For example, if the interconnection of cables to other cables, or to junction boxes and the like, requires hard-wired connections, problems arise with respect to both design and assembly. More specifically, assembling electrical components beneath a floor structure by means of screws and bolts is an arduous task, even for the most skilled electrician.
In view of all of the foregoing, it would be advantageous to provide an electrical access floor system with substantial interchangability of components, reduction in the number and types of different components, and ease of interconnection of components and general assembly.
In accordance with the invention, an electrical system is provided which is adapted to be positioned under an access floor. The electrical system is further adapted for supplying electrical power from an interconnected power source to selectively interconnected electrical devices. The electrical system in accordance with the invention is advantageous in that it comprises a relatively few number of different types of components, allows for various types of electrical and communications outlets, facilitates rearrangement of the overall system configuration, and allows for ease of removable interconnection of system components. In this regard, certain components of the electrical system are substantially interchangeable with each other, including floor access modules and junction block cables.
The electrical system includes a plurality of substantially identical electrical access floor modules selectively spaced under the access floor. The modules provide conveniently located electrical power locations for energizing the electrical devices. The system also includes a plurality of substantially identical junction block cables for electrically interconnecting the access floor modules to the power source.
Releasable connection means are also provided, with the connection means being associated with the access floor modules and the junction block cables. The connection means provide for releasably and mechanically connecting each of the access floor modules to at least one of the junction block cables.
In addition to the foregoing, the electrical system also includes a plurality of electrical receptacle blocks. Each of the receptacle blocks includes at least one electrical receptacle which is electrically connectable to one or more of the electrical devices for supplying electrical power to the devices. Each of the receptacle blocks is further electrically connectable to the junction block cables.
Further in accordance with the invention, the electrical floor access modules are substantially interchangeable with each other, and the junction block cables are substantially interchangeable with each other so as to provide the electrical system as a modular system which is adapted to be sized and configured in a manner which does not require any substantial amount of different types and/or sizes of cables and other electrical equipment.
The electrical receptacles include a first predetermined terminal connection arrangement. Each of the junction block cables includes a junction block connectable to an access floor module through the releasable connection means. Each of the junction block cables includes a second predetermined terminal connection arrangement for electrically and releasably engaging the first predetermined terminal connection arrangement. In addition, each of the junction block cables also includes an external third terminal connection arrangement.
The junction block cables each further comprises an electrical conduit section and a terminating connector which is electrically connected to the second terminal connection arrangement of the junction block of the junction cable through the conduit section. The terminating connector of each of the junction block cables is electrically and releasably engagable with a third terminal connection arrangement of another of the junction block cables.
The electrical system in accordance with the invention can also include a plurality of extension cables, with each of the extension cables being electrically connectable to the junction block cables. At least one of the extension cables can include a terminating connector electrically and releasably engagable with a third terminal connection arrangement of a junction block cable. At least one of the extension cables can also include a double terminating connector at one end of the extension cable, for electrical interconnection with two of the junction block cables.
The electrical system in accordance with the invention can also include a power input cable connectable to the power source, and also connectable to one of the terminating connectors of one of the junction block cables. Also, at least one of the electrical receptacle blocks can include duplex electrical receptacles. Further, at least one of the electrical receptacle blocks can include communication ports. Still further, the electrical system can include voice/data or other communication ports, in addition to means associated with at least one of the access floor modules for mechanically and releasably connecting at least one of the communication ports to the at least one access floor module.
The electrical system in accordance with the invention can also include conventional communications element and mounting brackets, which are mechanically connectable to at least one of the access floor modules. Further, at least one of the junction blocks can be double sided so as to mechanically and electrically connect at least one of the electrical receptacle blocks to either side of the junction block. Still further, the electrical conduit section of at least one of the junction block cables can be adjustable in length.
The electrical system in accordance with the invention can be sized and configured so that multiple junction blocks associated with multiple junction block cables may be mechanically and releasably interconnected to a single access floor module, with the multiple junction blocks being electrically interconnected to each other. Still further, the third terminal connection arrangement of at least one of the junction blocks can include a connector block pair connectable to a terminating connector of each of two other junction block cables. Further, at least one of the junction blocks can include a recessed area for releasably engaging at least one of the receptacle blocks.
Each of the junction blocks associated with one of the junction block cables can be permanently connected to an associated one of the electrical conduit sections of the junction block cable. Each of the terminating connectors associated with the junction block cable can be permanently connected to an associated electrical conduit section of the corresponding junction block cable. Still further, each of the floor access modules can include a floor component formed in a rectangular, boxed-like structure having an open top portion.
The invention will now be described with reference to the drawing, in which:
The principles of the invention are disclosed, by way of example, in an electrical access floor system as depicted in
The access floor system as described in subsequent paragraphs herein is adapted for use in various types of office and other commercial and industrial environments. For example, such an office environment can include a workstation such as workstation 10 illustrated in
As previously described in the section entitled “Description of the Related Art,” modular office panels such as panels 14 may often include electrical raceways for mounting electrical receptacles or the like (not shown) near the lower portions or in other areas of the panels 14. As an alternative, workstation 10 may also be employed in an office environment having access flooring such as access floor 30 illustrated in
The workstation 10 with the access floor 30 can be employed within a modular office system, such as the system 50 illustrated in
As further shown in
It should be emphasized that the particular access floor 30 and the individual elements of the support system 54 do not form any of the principal concepts of the invention. Electrical access floor systems in accordance with the invention may be utilized with varying types of floor structures. However, systems in accordance with the invention are particularly well suited for access flooring systems having removable sections and the like.
The general structure of an embodiment of an electrical access floor system in accordance with the invention will now be described with reference to
As described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the access floor modules 102 comprise structures to which electrical receptacles and communication outlets may be mounted. That is, the access floor modules 102 essentially comprise a basic “building block” of the electrical system 100. When the general locations of the workstations 10, desks 52 and other components of the office system 50 are determined by the office system designer, a general layout can be provided as shown in
After the appropriate positioning of the access floor modules 102 has been determined, an appropriate and efficient cabling interconnection in accordance with the invention can be determined.
In addition to the access floor modules 102, a basic element of the electrical system 100 comprises the junction block cable 104. As will be described in greater detail herein, each of these junction block cables 104 includes a connector 106 permanently connected with the cable at one terminating end thereof. The connector 106 is capable of direct and releasable electrical interconnection to another junction block cable 104. As described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the electrical interconnection between junction block cables 104 can be made without requiring any tools or “hard” wiring.
At the opposing ends of each of the junction block cables 104 is a permanently connected junction block 108. As with the connectors 106, details of an exemplary embodiment of the junction block 108 will be described in subsequent paragraphs herein. The junction blocks 108 can be removably mounted to a selected access floor module 102. The junction blocks 108 serve to provide electrical interconnection and mounting for electrical receptacles and similar devices for direct interconnection with the electrical cords and communication lines 34 previously described with respect to
In accordance with the foregoing, the electrical system 100 can provide a number of locations for supplying electrical power to the workstations 10 and desks of the office system 50 shown in
Positioned in each of the front and rear portions, 304, 306 and end portions 308, 310 is a rectangular aperture 312 positioned as desired for purposes of providing mounting and electrical access positions as described in subsequent paragraphs herein. In the particular embodiment of the access floor module 102 as shown in
As further shown in
In addition to the access floor module 102 illustrated in
The junction block 108 is releasably mounted to the access floor module 102 by means of a mounting assembly 336. Details of the junction block 108, electrical receptacle block 332 and mounting assembly 336 will be described in subsequent paragraphs herein with respect to more detailed illustrations.
The junction block cable 104 also includes an adjustable cable or conduit section 338 electrically connected to one end of the junction block 108. The junction block 108, as will be apparent from the description of additional illustrations in subsequent paragraphs herein, is double sided and includes, on each side, an opening 340 (only one of which is shown in
The adjustable cable or conduit section 338 is connected at its end, opposing the end connected to the junction block 108, to a male connector block 106. The male connector block 106 includes, at its terminating end, a male connector 352 which is provided with a plurality of male connector terminals 354. The male connector block 106 is adapted to be interconnected to appropriate energy sources so as to provide electrical power to the electrical receptacle block 332 through the junction block 108 and adjustable cable or conduit section 338. The male connector block 106 will be described in greater detail in subsequent paragraphs herein with respect to further illustrations. In particular, the male connector block 106 is adapted to be interconnected directly to an incoming power feed cable, such as the cable 112 illustrated in
As earlier described, with respect to
With reference to
The horizontal member 370 is connected below and to a horizontal supporting tab 372. The supporting tab 372 is rectangular in structure and formed as an integral piece cut and bent from the front portion 304 illustrated in
With reference to
In addition to the connectors 342, the junction block 108 also includes a female connector block pair 392 extending outwardly from the right side wall 390. The female connector block pair 392, and the use thereof, is described in subsequent paragraphs herein with respect to further illustrations of the drawing. In particular, each of the female connector blocks of the female connector block pair 392 is adapted to be electrically interconnected to a male connector, such as the male connector 352 illustrated in
Extending outwardly and externally from the left side wall 388 is the adjustable cable or conduit section 338 interconnected in an electrical manner to the junction block 108 through the cable connector block 394. The cable connector block 394 and the adjustable cable or conduit section 338 are electrically interconnected to the connectors 342 and the female connector block pair 392 as described in subsequent paragraphs herein.
The junction block 108 is maintained in a stationary and releasably secured position relative to the L-shaped support bracket 366 and L-shaped support bracket 368 by engagement of an arcuate retaining tab 396. As shown in
The arcuate retaining tab 396 extending downward from the horizontal member 370 is adapted to engage a latching device 400 which is disposed between the mounting lugs 362, 364 extending upwardly from the upper wall 382 of the junction block 108. The latching device 400 comprises a pair of interlocking latch members 402 and 404. The interlocking latch member 402 is provided with an elongated member such as tongue 406 as primarily shown in
As earlier described, the interlocking latch members 402 and 404 may be formed integral with the upper wall 382 in a suitable manner. With this configuration, and as shown in
In accordance with the forgoing, the junction block 108 and associated junction block cable 104 may be releasably secured to a floor access module component 101 for purposes of providing electrical power in an appropriate position in the floor access layout. Concepts associated with mounting assemblies for electrical junction block housings are disclosed in the inventors own U.S. Pat. No. 4,993,576 issued Feb. 19, 1991. The teachings of U.S. Pat. No. 4,993,576 are hereby incorporated by reference herein. As described in subsequent paragraphs herein, one or more of the junction block cables 104 may be releasably interconnected to a floor access module 102 as desired by the electrical system designer.
Additional detail regarding the junction block cables 104 is illustrated in the enlarged perspective view of the one of the junction block cables 104 as shown in
The junction block 108 is also provided with connection lugs 420 which provide a means for securing preformed halves of the junction block 108 together along the seam 422 as further illustrated in
As previously described, the junction block 108 further comprises a female connector block pair 392 extending outwardly from the junction block 108 adjacent the female receptacle connectors 342. The female connector block pair 392 comprises a pair of female connector sets 424. Each of the female connector sets 424 is essentially positioned in a straight line relationship with a corresponding one of the female receptacle connectors 342. As will be described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the female connector block pair 392 is adapted to electrically interconnect the corresponding junction block cable assembly 104 to one or two others of the junction block cable assemblies 104.
In addition to the female connector block 392, the junction block cable assembly 104, as previously described herein, comprises the male or end connector block 106. The male or end connector block 106 comprises a male connector 352 having a series of male connector terminals 354 positioned at the terminating end thereof. The male or end connector block 106 is connected to the junction block 108 by means of the adjustable cable or conduit section 338.
Electrical power is transmitted through the junction block cable assembly 104 by means of electrical wires disposed in the adjustable cable or conduit section 338, with the wires terminating at the male connector terminals 354 of the male connector 352. Correspondingly, these wires are further connected to the female receptacle connectors 342 located on the junction blocks 108. The female receptacle connectors 342 are further electrically connected to the female connector sets 424 of the female connector block pair 392. In this manner, electrical power may be transmitted from external connections to the male connector terminals 354 or female connector sets 424 to the female receptacle connectors 342.
For purposes of accommodating distance requirements between and among access floor modules 102, the cable or conduit section 338 may be adjustable and comprise an expandable flexible conduit, as is well known in the art. For purposes of providing such adjustability, the male or end connector block 106 may be provided with an inner spatial area 426, as shown in a partially broken-away view in
The cable or conduit section 338 is preferably a flexible conduit which may be bent to accommodate a connection to others of the junction block cable assemblies 104 and access floor modules 102, rather than merely in straight line connections. Of primary importance, the male connector terminals 354 of a male or end connector block 106 of a particular junction block cable assembly 104 are electrically connectable to a female connector set 424 of a junction block 108 as associated with another of the junction block cable assemblies 104. In this manner, electrical interconnection of access floor modules 102 located at various positions under the floor illustrated in
Referring again to
The electrical outlet receptacle block 332 is illustrated in perspective and side elevation views in
If the electrical receptacle block 332 is to be electrically interconnected to the other female receptacle connectors 342 within the open spatial area 340 on the opposing side of junction block 108 (not shown in
It will be understood that the embodiments disclosed herein are only illustrative of the invention and numerous other arrangements may be derived by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
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|U.S. Classification||174/486, 174/59, 220/3.3, 439/577, 174/58, 52/220.8, 52/263|
|International Classification||H02G3/08, H02G3/38, H05K5/00, E04B5/00|
|Cooperative Classification||H02G3/38, H02G3/385|
|European Classification||H02G3/38, H02G3/38F2|
|Mar 24, 2010||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Mar 28, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8